P.J. O' Rourke dead at 74

Originally published at: P.J. O' Rourke dead at 74 | Boing Boing


Christ, what an asshole


By choosing the traditional conservative route of constantly punching down and victim-blaming, O’Rourke always sabotaged his own gifts as a humourist. For anyone who appreciates wittiness and the ability turn a clever phrase but also has a basic sense of empathy his career comes off as having been a waste of talent.


He always struck me as wanting to be Hunter S Thompson. Who was also an egotistical asshole.


Cross post


He wasn’t always wrong.


Wow, that National Lampoon article from 1976 may have been intending to skewer racism (or so it’s been claimed) by parodying it to extremes, but damn, that’s tough to look at. If he was going to write something like that I’m kinda amazed that he used his real name on the byline rather than some fake persona like with the Op-Eds in The Onion.


He was my introduction to cancel culture when he came to give a talk at my liberal university and basically got ran out with pitchforks. Makes sense that he would encounter pitchforks in the afterlife.


If you search for Foreigners Around The World, you’ll likely land on the website of John Derbyshire, a man so thoroughly racist he was run out of The National Review for it. He’s evidently fond of Foreigners Around The World.

It’s the ultimate example of something that supposedly critiques racism while blatantly relishing it. I think it should be taken seriously both as a critique and as an example of thing being critiqued, as text impossible to remove from its 1970s context and as insincere trolling that worked then exactly as it does now. And then it should be forgotten.


thompson, at least, focused his work on “punching up” which is more than can be said for o’rourke.


That’s true, same kind of bullshit bravado but with opposite targets.



That might be a good inscription for my tombstone- She wasn’t always wrong


We are indeed running him out of his casket.

Would you like the corpse?


I’ll give him this: he was one of relatively few prominent Republicans who consistently denounced Trump, publicly stating he’d be voting for Hillary in 2016 and royally pissing off his fellow conservatives in the process. This Spectator op-ed is indicative of how his “betrayal” was seen by his former fans toward the end:

Not convinced he ever had the compassion or self-reflection to realize WHY the views he championed for decades gave rise to someone like Trump though.


I always thought it was weird that a former Editor of National Lampoon could be a conservative. But I guessing he didn’t become one till he became rich.


I think that was one aspect of HST, the other being that he was self-aware of how he was an asshole. It was a part of his persona, where he drew upon the disgust and loathing of racists and oppressors, and why he attempted to avoid all claims that we was a role model.

P.J. instead seemed like the sleazy frat boy who tried to hang out with you always considered himself better than you. There was a sort of smugness in everything he wrote. Thank the gods I never got around to knowing him beyond the odd bit of writing I would stumble across when looking for something else.


The “hard middle”, hmm.


He chronicles this transformation in his book Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut. It’s pretty much the same thing that happened to so many Boomers - liberal idealists giving up their principles once they’ve got theirs. That said, O’Rourke is the only conservative that I’ve enjoyed reading, even if I disagree entirely with his politics.


“wear plants for clothes”?

Quick, someone wake PJ up and explain cotton to him. Better throw in linen, too. He looks like he has a linen suit or two.

ETA: “had

I would have thought so, too, but I found a copy of their “1964 Yearbook” at a garage sale and it’s just full of rapey, misogynistic and lazy “jokes”. I tend to look at that era with a sense that the progressives were aligned with everyone on the left, but in reality, the small minority of people with truly progressive ideas were often surrounded by people who were… less dedicated to substantive change. I had to stop reading “Hells Angels” after HST spent the first quarter seemingly exonerating a bunch of gang rapists (that’s as far as I got). Some of these things can be attributed to changing cultural norms, but most of it was clear and obvious to the vast majority of people and these people were lionized, anyway.

Edited for clarity